In the course of human events, I ended up in Milwaukee Friday for a fundraising luncheon at the Pfister where Vice President Joe Biden was stumping with Senator Russ Feingold. I came the night before because I had some business in Madison on Thursday. It gave me the opportunity to check out a concert on Cathedral Square, where they don’t seem to have all the issues with alcohol events that we’re forever turning ourselves inside out about here, but that’s a story for another day. (By the way, Milwaukee has changed a lot over the past 20 years and I happen to think it gets a bad rap, but that’s a story for another day, too.)
There were around 200 people at the Pfister’s Imperial Room, which is pretty good when you consider that the tariff for a nicely presented ham and cheese sandwich with dessert for this particular event started at $500. It WAS a fundraiser, after all — and Feingold raised more than 100 grand. Security was decent, but not overbearing. I ran into a few people I knew, but there weren’t a lot of politicians – not Mayor Barrett, Senator Kohl; no congressional representatives and only one state legislator that I noticed. There was also essentially no media, save one scribe from the Journal-Sentinel. No TV cameras or audio taping was allowed and Biden didn’t talk directly with the media during his visit at all.
Feingold gave a rousing speech and Biden gave remarks that were really very well done and highly entertaining. A good portion was about interacting with Feingold, including his fierce independence and unwavering principles in many areas. “In closing, let me just say that everything I had to say, I pretty much agree with,” Biden quipped, recognizing his role as the headliner for a campaign event. The vice president discussed the economy, including the conditions under which the Administration took office and what has happened since then. There was no talk about McChrystal or the Rolling Stone article in which Biden was mentioned that caused all the furor this week and really ended up being a big effing deal.
And then came my Forrest Gump moment. I don’t really enjoy big city driving all that much, but as I hopped onto I-43, I noticed that the drive out of town was amazingly easy, with open lanes wall-to-wall. There was a reason for this: motorcycle cops were blocking the entrance ramps as I breezed out of the city. If I’d have shown up a minute earlier or a minute later, everything would have been different, but as luck would have it, I ended up being the first car behind Vice President Biden’s fairly significant motorcade. This essentially made me part of the motorcade, for all practical purposes — and it went on for several miles. ‘A person could get used to this,’ I thought to myself, as I popped a few pics over the steering wheel with my cell phone.